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A wheelclamping nightmare


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My husband recently parked his car in Uxbridge, borough of Hillingdon whilst he went to a meeting at the town hall there. He parked outside a block of flats having looked for no parking signs and none were visible.

When he returned to his car at 10.30pm he discovered it missing. he was about to call the police to report it stolen when a resident of the block of flats came out to tell him that it was private property and that there were signs to that effect on the wall. now, it was dark, the 'signs' he pointed out were 1. low down on a wall that was obscured as there was a car parked in front of it concealing it and 2. the second sign was high up on a wall and the writing was so small one had to go right up to it to be able to read it in the daytime. at night, the lack of any light to illuminate it meant it was impossible to see it let alone read it!

There was a telephone number which my husband then called and was told it would cost him £450 to get the car back and it would be 'cash only'.

My husband couldn't get that amount of money from the cashpoint so was left to find a night bus to get back to North London and home.

When he tried to call the next day, Sunday, there was no answer. He eventually got through to the guy in the afternoon who told him he didn't release cars on Sunday and arranged to meet my husband at 8.30 am next day at Uxbridge tube station where they would go by mini cab to the car pound to release it.

On Sunday afternoon, my husband received a call fom his family abroad to say that his brother who had been seriously ill in hospital had passed away. He needed to get on a flight out of London the next morning and the only flight available that day was leaving at 9am. The car was in the pound and I don't drive... eventually, I got through to the car clamper and explained the situation and literally begged him to release the car that evening so that my husband could leave in time to attend his brother's funeral ,which he finally agreed to do and we ended up taking a train out to West Drayton at 10.30 at night to meet up with the clamper who took our money and released the car. He gave us a receipt but we were in no mood to argue with him especially as he looked like the incredible hulk.

I have contacted the trading standards in Hillingdon who passed me on to consumer direct who took details and gave me a reference number. they advised me to take photos of the location which I have now done and am ready to write to the company to appeal against the fine and the lack of adequate signage. (there is no sign at the entrance to say private property/no parking or anything else for that matter).

Could anyone advise me what I should write in the letter? should I send photos? I understand I should give them 14 days to respond or threaten them with a small claims proceeding. the trading standards don't seem to want to get involved any further and have basically told me I'm on my own from this point..great!

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You might want to check if the company is SIA registered first. It should have this info on the receipt you were given. More info on this here:-

 

Who Needs a Licence? - Security Industry Authority

 

When you write to them, don't include the photos you have. Just state clearly that the signage was inadequate and that you require a full refund of the money you have paid to this company as they have unlawfully clamped you. Be direct, don't appeal, just state that the vehicle was unlawfulyl immobilised and towed away and you won't accept anything less than a full refund.

 

If you get no response then write a letter before action giving them a set period of time (14 days should be enough) to pay up. If they don't then go the small claims court route.

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Aude,

 

It's your choice but I think if you give them 14 days to respond it shows you are being reasonable in trying to take steps to resolve the issue before starting an action in the county court. Judges are not impressed if you give unreasonable time frames prior to a case going before them and they like to see that you have taken appropriate steps to resolve the matter as a first resort, with taking it to court as your last resort.

 

Just remember it is your claim and you set the pace by setting your own time limits.

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Thanks again, have just written the letter and will send it recorded today. I wont enclose photos as you advised but have said that I 'have photographic evidence to support my claim if necessary'!. have given them 14 days to answer.

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Guest perky88

Aude,

 

The advice you have received is not strictly correct - if you have photographs of the site you should send them with your letter to the clamping/towing company.

 

All steps should be taken before commencing litigation to resolve matter between yourselves and court action at a last resort, if you have photographs and refuse to supply them and issue proceedings - they could have a reaonable case in court for mostof your costs to be written off (issue fees/solicitor fixed costs etc..)

 

In any event, all evidece each party intends to rely on would normally be ordered to be exxhcnaged no more than 14-days before the hearing date (witness statements/photogrpahs/documents etc..)

 

I would send the photogrpahs with your letter - that way you can not be accused of witholding any evidence .. as it is possible for people to return to the scene afterwards, remove signs, take pics and send them in ... thats why photogrpahs should be taken at the time by the people removing the vehicle showing signage ... if they didnt then the argument about signage being there when towed and not now can not be used !

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Sorry Perky, but I have to say I disagree with your advice to send in the photos in the first instance. The company should know what signage they have at the site. The OP has also pointed out in her letter that she has this evidence available. If they subsequently ask to see it then the necessary arrangements can be made. After all, this is no different to what the private parking companies do when they send out their invoices and state that their invoice can be supported by photograhic evidence. I would be surprised if many of them send out this evidence in the first instance.

 

As for your comments about witholding evidence, it will only become evidence if it goes as far as county court. The usual rules will then apply.

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Thanks all, I haven't sent photos but if it should go to court, I will submit the photos as supporting evidence with my documentation. The parking company haven't asked for anything but the clamper himself told me I could appeal and even said I could go back and take photos of the signage!

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Guest perky88

I struggle to understand why people dont send all evidence in the first letter - it saves time in the long run - or maybe people like sending/recieving letters about the same subject !

 

To me .. if I have evidence, I send it .. show its there ... and job done - if they want to argue it .. go straight to court as nothing else to send/say ...

 

As for going to county court, as I am sure you're aware Rob.. In the small claims court normal rules of evidence DO NOT apply .. so you are incoreect in your last statement !

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I don't need to send any photos at all as no one has asked for them yet so no point!

As I said, it was the clamper himself who advised me to take the photos otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. I'm pretty sure I'll win if it goes to court and I'll enjoy every minute. These people are modern day bandits and something should be done to put an end to their behaviour.

I know you speak from the 'other side' Perky as I've been reading all your 40 plus comments on other threads. It must be annoying for you when people park outside your coffee shop and take up customer parking but my case is different and I won't allow them to get away with what they did if I can do anything about it.

Thanks for your advice Rob;)

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  • 2 weeks later...

More advice needed on this please!

I have just come back from posting a 'letter before action' to the parking company that towed our car away to find that the first letter I sent requesting a refund of the fine has been returned to me with 'addresse has gone away' on the letter even though I sent it by recorded mail and there was a signature when I checked on the royal mail's track and trace system. Where do I go from here? the address I sent it to was the one on the penalty notice. obviously there is something dodgy going on.:confused:

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